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Rise in Breast Cancer in India Linked to Cultural Issues

/ September 29, 2017 /

Globally, breast cancer is on the rise; India is right up on the list, being one of the top two countries with high mortality rates due to women-centric cancers. Several studies conducted in recent years have proved the same, and the statistics are numbing. For several decades, cervical cancer was the most commonly diagnosed cancer among women, but over the past few years, the trend has changed, both in terms of incidence and mortality.

As per the Globocan reports, while cervical cancer saw a decrease, from 25.9% in 2008 to 22.9% in 2012, breast cancer was recorded at 22.2% in 2008, which saw a notable increase in 2012, to 27%.

At present, India has the highest number of women dying of breast cancer, the numbers being as high as one out of every two women diagnosed. The cause for this unprecedented rise in breast cancer cases in the country, according to a new study by experts, could be due to a paradigm shift in lifestyle, lack of awareness about self examination, or certain cultural barriers. Women, in most cases, were reluctant to seek medical advice or consult male doctors due to cultural barriers. Many others were seen to be neglecting their health amid domestic obligations. Even independent, educated women were found to be tight-lipped with their partners and immediate families about their bodies.

The study also shows how rapid westernisation and economic development have contributed to the statistic. According to Judith Fletcher-Brown of the University of Portsmouth, in order to make a difference, awareness has to be created among the male population since Indian society was, after all, found to be patriarchal in its functioning. The study also showed that schools and media played integral roles in creating awareness about the rising incidences of breast cancer. By spreading awareness and providing quality breast cancer healthcare, India can undoubtedly strengthen the outlook for its womenfolk.

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